BANCABC Bank Limited is embroiled in legal disputes with former employees over unfair labour practices that have in the past resulted in the banking sector union picketing the bank’s premises.
By Fidelity Mhlanga
Last year, BancABC Zimbabwe fired 75 workers, sparking demonstrations outside its offices in Arundel, Harare, as the financial institution joined many local companies that retrenched following the July 17 2015 Supreme Court ruling which made it easier to dismiss employees without severance pay.
ABC Holdings owns BancABC, a commercial banking unit, which is 98,7% owned by Atlas Mara, an investment company co-owned by former Barclays Plc chief executive Bob Diamond and African entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar.
Since the layoffs, the banks’ employees have been lodging complaints about unfair labour practices bordering on ill-treatment and unfair dismissal.
The bank has also suspended employees who were suspected of leaking information to the media. One of the employees Shirley Karumazondo and six others filed a complaint of unfair labour practices.
Documents seen by the Zimbabwe Independent show that the Labour Court ruled in favour of Shirley Karumazondo and six other ex-employees who were claiming unfair labour practices by the bank regarding underpayment of wages and benefits. The bank, through its lawyers, filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. The hearing of the application was set down and judgment was reserved. Leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was granted. The bank officially lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court in May 2016. Both parties filed heads of argument at the Supreme Court and are now awaiting for the case to be set down.
Another employee, Siphathisiwe Elina Lutangu, also joined a plethora of other affected workers, claiming unfair labour practices after she was dismissed after being found guilty of theft. The Labour Court upheld the dismissal and the former employee is now seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Lutangu’s application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed and no further action has been taken since the dismissal.
Another employee, Ruwo Hamadziripi, was suing the bank for US$5 202,85 after claiming that the the financial was paying salaries below the National Employment Council minimum wage constituting unfair labour practice and casualisation of labour.
The matter was dismissed at arbitration and the former employee appealed against the decision of the arbitrator to the Labour Court.
Ruwo’s appeal was dismissed at the Labour Court for his failure to comply with the appeal rules. No application for reinstatement of the appeal has been made so far.
In December 2015, BancABC non-managerial employees, who had earlier been retrenched, gave notice to embark on collective job action following the failure to reach an agreement on a retrenchment package.